Dropout Prevention

Joint Legislative Commission on Dropout Prevention and High School Graduation Meeting Summary:  December 2, 2008

The purpose of the meeting today was to finalize the recommendations and findings of the Commission on Dropout Prevention and High School Graduation to be submitted with any proposed legislation to the 2009 North Carolina General Assembly. Discussion was held on the findings and recommendations, further revisions will be made and members will receive by e-mail the final report. There will be no future meetings.

Report to the 2009 General Assembly

Finding #1:  Innovative and non-traditional high school designs strengthen the retention of students in schools and reduce failure rates. North Carolina high schools that implemented reform/redesign models showed improved performance on 2007-08 End-of-Course tests.

  • No additional discussion was held on this item.

Finding #2: At-risk students are less likely to drop out if they form an on-going relationship with a designated adult in the school who consistently shows concern and provides personal attention in helping at-risk students address their academic or personal problems and assists them in staying on track for graduation.

  • Minor language changes underlined. No additional discussion was held on this item.

Finding #3: Current law requires children to attend school between the ages of seven and 16.  In 2006-07, students aged 17 were the most frequent dropouts.  The next highest age group of dropouts was students aged 18, followed by students aged 16.

  • No additional discussion was held on this item.

Finding #4: A student’s successful transition to and positive academic progress in 9th Grade are pivotal factors in the likelihood that the student will be promoted to 10th Grade and will graduate in a timely manner.

  • No additional discussion was held on this item.

Finding #5: In North Carolina in 2006-07, students dropped out more frequently during 9th Grade than any other grade.

  • No additional discussion was held on this item

Finding #6: Student suspension rates in North Carolina have been on the rise in recent years and students who are suspended from school are three times more likely to dropout than other students.

  • No additional discussion was held on this item

Finding #7 The presence of the following risk factors increase a student’s likelihood of failing to complete their high school education: multiple tardies, poor attendance, lack of parent involvement and support, multiple suspensions, low grades and lack of academic success.

  • Staff will determine if this finding is the best place to include teen pregnancy and keep the parent involvement piece or whether it needs to be added to the proposed legislation.

Finding #8 High-quality preschool programs are important to help at-risk students enter school healthy and ready to achieve high academic performance. Reading at grade level by Grade 3 is a key predictor of high school completion and early intervention programs that promote literacy in the early elementary years are important.

  • No additional discussion was held on this item.

Finding #9 The Commission heard from the Committee on Dropout Prevention that the availability of Dropout Prevention Grants has stimulated significant interest across the State. Hundreds of groups, including local school systems, schools, nonprofits, faith-based organization and colleges have proposed a variety of innovative programs and initiatives. These proposals have been designed to address unique local needs, supplement local resources, and build upon collaborative efforts in order to keep students in school and on track for high school graduation. The Commission is hopeful that the planned evaluation of the funded proposals will identify successful practices that can be sustained locally and can be replicated in other locations. The Commission strongly encourages the General Assembly to appropriate sufficient funds in the 2009 Session to continue some of these more successful initiatives and also to provide the opportunity for a new round of proposals to be funded.

  • Senator Malone expressed reservations about including this finding for more funding in 2009, based on the fact that there has been grant funding for two years and the evaluation of the initial grants is not yet available. Prior to asking for more funding the effectiveness of the initial grants is important information to know.

Finding #10 The Commission finds that it is premature to develop a network for sharing best practice among grant recipients, the public schools and other interested organizations. The Commission recommends such a network be developed after there is data available from the grant recipients that documents practices that have proven to be successful in reducing the dropout rate and increasing the graduation rate. The Commission also encourages the Department of Public Instruction, as part of its technical support to grant recipients, to assist in the development of this network.

  • No additional discussion was held on this item.

Recommendations for Legislation are as follows:

Recommendation #1: Legislation entitled: Funding for Learn and Earn. General Assembly shall appropriate funds for 11 Learn and Earn Early College that received a planning grant in the 2008-09 fiscal year. A bill was prepared and requires $3.25 million in funding for the next two years.

  • No additional discussion was held on this item.

Recommendation #2: Legislation entitled: Communities in School Funds. The General Assembly shall appropriate funds for Community in Schools of North Carolina to place no fewer than 100 graduation coaches in either middle or high schools and give priority to schools that have a 4-year cohort graduation rate of less than 65%. A bill was prepared and requires funding to Communities in Schools for $6.02 million each year for the next two years.  

  • Commission members discussed changing the title of the bill. No decision or name change was agreed upon.

Recommendation #3: Legislation entitled: Study Raising the Compulsory Attendance Age. The General Assembly shall direct the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina to study raising the compulsory attendance age for public school attendance from sixteen to seventeen or eighteen.  As a minimum, the study shall examine other states that have raised the compulsory attendance age to determine all impacts, including the effect on the dropout rate and the fiscal impact.  A bill was prepared requiring the study.

  • The Commission members requested language to be added to address the students who graduate before age 18 so this review takes these students into account as graduates (not based on their age). A request was made to include the Private Colleges and Universities to the group studying this issue. They confirmed the April 15, 2009 date as the date to receive the report on the study.

Recommendation #4: Legislation entitled: Successful Transition to High School. The Commission strongly encourages LEAs to focus on transition to 9th Grade by implementing programs to help prepare 8th graders for the expectations, challenges and rigors of high school; to develop early warning systems to flag students who are not ready for 9th Grade and develop plans to address their needs so they are successful in 9th Grade; and to focus on the 9th Grade by continuing to implement Ninth Grade Academies, pairing incoming 9th Graders with upperclassmen for mentoring support, and to implement graduation plans for students who have fallen behind and are off-track to graduate.

  • The Commission discussed including the teen pregnancy and parent involvement issues into this bill. They did not decide if they wanted to put them here or leave them in Finding #7.


One Response to “Dropout Prevention”

  1. Michael Says:

    My son got into some trouble right at his 16th birthday. He was charged with a Felony and of course the school was notified. He was expelled until this matter is over by the Wayne County Public School. It has been going on for a year now; he has missed all of last year and looks like the start of this year so far. He was not allowed to take his end of course tests the year prior year.
    My question, is this a state policy or state law to expell a student who gets in trouble even when it’s not involved on School property or has nothing to do with the School. They offered him an alternate School but no from of transportation even though I’m a taxpayer. I tried to get him a NC Driver’s license last week and was told he had been listed as a dropout so now he would have to wait until he is 18 years old.
    My son does not want to be listed as a dropout and wishes to get back into public school. What if any plan does your agency have that would assist with these first time offenders? It does not seem fair to the student. I wonder how times this has happened to students that have actually been listed as dropouts.

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